I’ve been quiet on the blog for a bit.
More work on stuff I wrote about this past Fall.
Good work. But hard work.
And a big piece of that work has been work to get my physical and mental health into better shape. As I’ve said, in the Fall I reached a point where I really said for the first time in my life “I want to live”, not just be alive by default.
Since the start of March, a big piece of this work has involved my physical health. Resuming my weight training, cutting out alcohol and coffee for a while. Continuing my yoga. Resuming my elliptical training. And adding a new cardio workout to my program.
It’s definitely yielded physical and mental results. Physically, I’m back nearly to where I was at my physical peak 5 years ago. In a way that marks the final piece of recovery from leaving my job four years ago. And I am feeling like I’m making real, substantial progress in addressing and removing the issues and anxieties that plagued me (and thus everyone in my life) so profoundly in the Fall.
Candidly, no one will ever really understand how bad that was for me. And that’s good. Because it was very bad.
I feel myself emerging once again. A new me. A stronger me. A better me.
There is another piece to this all, though.
At the end of February, after I’d decided on my cleanse program and had started my weight training something happened that has changed my life.
I was driving home, listening the the Gravity soundtrack. A movie that speaks to me loudly with its own message of “I want to live”. And the music reminds me of the passing of my dog in January. The soundtrack wasn’t complete when I got to my drive so I decided to continue driving to play it out (I hate to interrupt things like that). While I was driving, listening to the music, I happened by one of the local fire stations. Out front, they had a banner up announcing they are looking for volunteers.
Now, I had seen a call like this years before, when I was in that job. And I thought about it and decided that I couldn’t do it due to my work.
This time, though, things are different. I thought about it. I came home and looked up information on the program.
And I decided I would do it. I would try to become a volunteer firefighter.
One thing that is a theme in my life is the role of luck. I define luck as the combination of random chance and the drive to grab those chances and capitalize on them. I live where I do because of luck. My partners are because of luck. Time and again my life has moved forward because of a single moment or event.
And I realized that this is another of those.
This decision immediately gave my other work around physical health in particular new focus. I would always say that my motivation for working out was the American Beauty reason: I want to look good naked.
But with this new project, I have a newer, much more effective reason. Quite simply, I now have a voice in my head that says “You don’t want to be unable to help yourself or someone else because you skipped your workout”. It is giving me some very plausible life or death reasons for working out.
So since March I’ve been pushing myself, hard (at least for me) because I want this.
I put my application in last Thursday. I’m waiting to hear back. Sometime in the next couple of months will come the tryouts. By all measures I think it’s likely that I will pass. If I do, then I’ll start their training in the fall.
Even if I don’t make it, the project has already yielded benefits. Beyond the physical ones I find that it is giving space for that warrior side of me. I’m feeling more of my toppy/dominant energy. And, in a way, I’m finding that it’s giving me more comfort with my masculine energy and identity.
I find too that doing this makes a lot of sense on a spiritual side, for lack of a better way of putting it. I have a very complicated relationship with change and chaos. And nothing symbolizes that more than fire.
I’m sure I’ll be writing on that more.
This isn’t something I’m taking lightly. I’ve talked with firefighters and they’ve given me the “scare the crap out of you” talk about what they do. I know that this is something very hard. Something that can be very traumatic. Something that truly could injure or even kill me (though the department hasn’t yet lost anyone in the line of duty).
But that doesn’t scare me off. Rather it speaks to that side of me that wants to run towards my fears.
I know that it may not make sense that having found this desire to live, I should turn and start looking at something that could do the opposite. But it makes sense to me. And is giving me a grounding and focus I feel I’ve been missing, really for years.
I’ve been watching Rescue Me, which is about a fire station in the FDNY. It’s a very complicated show. But one thing it does well is show how hard this can be. And all I can say is that part of the show, that feels right to me.
In the end, I think I have that classic service calling, likely from my father. Perhaps that’s partly why I’m feeling better, that’s starting to flow once again.
I don’t know where this will go. And I’m OK with that. That’s kind of the nature of this.
But for now, here’s the opening credits to Rescue Me. I’ve fallen in love with the song (oh yeah and watching the firetrucks and equipment).
Stay tuned for more updates.
p.s. I should also note that when people ask me why I’m doing this, I always end by saying “Hello, uniform, duh!”. 🙂